So here is where we are. We have a sitting president pretending that he won an election he resoundingly lost, and nearly 90 percent of the GOP members in Congress refusing to challenge the assertion.
Top officials in 18 states and more than half of House Republicans supported a bonkers lawsuit trying to reverse the result of the election–even though a number of them owe their own seats to that same election.
Meanwhile, Proud Boys (a White Supremacist gang) prowl the streets of Washington and were actually invited into the White House by a deranged and dangerous almost-ex President.
To say that this is all insane behavior is to belabor the obvious. Even Trump ally Chris Christie has called the Texas lawsuit “absurd.”
Prior to the Presidential campaign, former GOP strategists and conservatives–including Rick Wilson, George Conway, Steve Schmidt, Reed Galen, Jennifer Horn, John Weaver, Ron Steslow, and Mike Madrid formed the Lincoln Project, “accountable to those who would violate their oaths to the Constitution and would put others before Americans.” Wilson, Conway and Schmidt have been particularly vocal in repudiating the Trumpism that has radicalized and infantilized what remains of the GOP. There have been other groups of disaffected Republicans, like Republican Voters Against Trump, and large numbers of former Republican officeholders ( especially DOJ lawyers and military personnel) who have issued letters and statements pointing out that various Trump actions and statements weren’t simply wrong, but in violation of American values and the rule of law.
Ex-Republicans, including conservative “names” like Charlie Sykes and Bill Kristol, established the Bulwark, “a project of Defending Democracy Together Institute, a 501(c)(3) organization.” They are joined philosophically by media figures like Joe Scarborough, who was once a Republican Congressman.
These dissidents from Trumpism are largely drawn from what we might call the brains of the former GOP–strategists, political philosophers (and to be fair, a number of self-regarding blowhards. But still…)
Thoughtful people understand that America needs two responsible, adult political parties. That need is especially significant in a country that has only two major parties. When the political system works properly, both of those parties will be bigger “tents” than today’s GOP, but one will be generally more conservative and one generally more liberal.
People of good will who are focused on the common good will disagree about many things. They will bring different perspectives and life experiences to the nation’s problems. And in what should be an inevitable process of negotiation and compromise, broadly acceptable public policies will be hammered out.
That process is impossible when one party is a fundamentalist cult.
When one of only two political parties is dominated by people who believe that God is not only on their side, but has directed them not to negotiate, compromise or accept any reality other than their preferred one, government cannot function. And that is the alternative reality in which members of today’s GOP live.
The postmodern blood libel of QAnon will have adherents in Congress. Kyle Rittenhouse, a young man charged with killing Black Lives Matter protesters, is a right-wing folk hero. The Republican Party has become more hostile to democracy than ever. Both the Trump and Bush presidencies concluded with America a smoking ruin. Only Trump has ensured that nearly half the country doesn’t see it.
As Paul Krugman observed in that same issue, the GOP has become hostile to the very idea that there’s an objective reality that might conflict with its political goals.
There are certainly similarly ideological, intransigent people among the Democrats–but they don’t control it, and they do not come close to being a majority of that party’s base.
Today, what remains of the GOP is a seething, angry mob. Scholars can research the roots of this devolution; psychiatrists and political psychologists can investigate the personality quirks that predict attraction to whatever it is that being a Republican these days represents. But what is abundantly clear–not just to Democrats and Independents, but to anti-Trump Republicans–is that the current iteration of the Grand Old Party is incapable of participating in governance.
Tantrums are not policy positions.
In my opinion (not that anyone is likely to ask for my opinion), if the United States is to return to a semblance of sanity, or to any adult version of governance, the principled conservatives who have exited the GOP need to form a new center-right party, and leave the current Republican Party to the howling, racist remnants that currently dominate it.